Emma LOVED Carolina!
However yesterday, we went to tour Duke … she liked that too, but that’s another post.
We’d gone to the admissions office early, well … early for us, getting 9 people going in the same direction is sort of like moving an aircraft carrier or a cruise ship, it is a slow and meticulous process. But nonetheless, we got there more than the 30 minutes requested. It was more like 34 minutes, but hey, I thought we were doing great! The admissions office is situated on a street that is lined with parallel parking, 12 of the spots are free and the others are metered. Of course we wanted the free parking because once we dropped off Emma we were going on our own tour and no one wants to have to pay for parking or run back and feed a meter.
34 minutes early was not enough time to get free parking.
Such is our lot in life. But, Husband let Emma and me out and I walked her up, checked her in and waved a cheery farewell with the promise to return at 4pm on the dot. We had swim practice and dinner plans after all, and the schedule must not be compromised.
The Gods were happy that day though because … the skies opened up, the sunlight streamed down, and the angels began singing all around a parking spot that had opened right in front. They may as well have put our name on it.
So, what did I do? I went and stood in the spot of course. Obnoxious as that is, I did and I’m not ashamed.
The trick though was getting the Husband to answer his phone and getting the stupid phone call to go through, because all the frantic text messages I sent were stuck in the “send” mode. (For some reason, the cell phone service in Chapel Hill is not that great. Or maybe it’s just because it sensed my anxiety?) Finally, he answered and after some 12-point turn action a la Austin Powers, blocking traffic, and generally making a nuisance of ourselves, we got parked, got the free permit and were on our way!
First stop: Alderman dorm. This was where I lived as a sophomore. I’d gotten so lucky with the dorm allotment because my freshman year, I lived in Hinton James. Anyone familiar with UNC Chapel Hill knows that Hinton James is situated somewhere near the coast of North Carolina. The walk from south campus (where I lived) to north campus (where the music buildings were) is a good 30 minutes. So much for that morning shower. By the time I got to my 8am history class, I was sweaty and yucky, destined to feel gross the entire day, and once I was on north campus, I was there for the whole day. Work, rehearsals, practices, lessons, classes, the schedule of a music major wasn’t especially a light one.
So my sophomore year, I set out to change that and one 5 minute walk through the arboretum put me in class. It was heaven.
We wandered around, exploring my old haunts of Hill Hall, the rabbit warren of the practice rooms down in the basement, the pink tiled bathroom that looks (and smells, think Pine Sol here) exactly the same, the familiar mustiness and sounds of the muffled music. Person Hall, where I met my best friend Mollie singing in the Carolina Choir and disturbed the class with our shaking laughter as we sat in the window sill trying our best to pay attention, was as unchanged as that first February day I auditioned in front of 12 faculty members sitting in a semi-circle like 12 angry men with their clipboards.
Intimidating to say the least.
But an amazing experience. My life was changed that day.
We sauntered down toward the second quad where most of Husband’s history classes were located, tripping over the brick paths just like we used to. Wilson library loomed in front and we entered the hushed halls, gawking at the ornate and old-fashioned reading rooms complete with polished tables and chandeliers, the exhibitions of Sir Walter Raleigh (a model sailing ship and suit of armor eliciting oohs and aahs), and my favorite, the music library that had been relocated from Hill Hall. The stacks smelled wonderfully bookish and took me back to the hours I spent in them, both working and studying and learning how to use a Macintosh computer.
From here the kids were thirsty (of course) and so needed a change of scenery. A quick shop in the student stores to get a friend the license plate she requested and we were in the student union sipping our soft drinks and telling the kids about how we used to watch movies and bowl down in the basement. We visited the alumni center and the football stadium, the bell tower and then headed back toward Franklin Street for lunch. Lizzie’s only request for the entire time spent in Chapel Hill was to eat at Time Out. Home of the famous square biscuit and fried chicken removed right from the bone, we had to accommodate even though it wasn’t something I particularly wanted to eat for lunch. So, we divided and conquered leaving Abby and “below” at Time Out playing “Name that Beatles’ Tune” while husband, Lucy and I went to have sushi across the street.
Full and tired, we hit Johnny T-Shirt for some Carolina swag, and made our way to Morehead Planetarium to watch a show about black holes. It was just like I remember from college. Namely dark, cool, and because of the reclined chairs, the perfect place to take a cat nap. Mary fell completely asleep, softly snoring next to me as Geoffrey Rush narrated the movie playing above us on the convex dome. It was interesting, but I confess to dozing. Just a little.
Walking back to the truck the kids, having had their down time, were itching to get in the hotel pool, so we headed back to prepare for the rest of the afternoon. Husband took the little kids to the pool, Lucy took a nap, and Abby, Mollie and I went to retrieve Emma from her day-long tour, catered lunch, information session and ACT class, and get the girls to their swim practice. Nervous and a little excited, they walked into the Khoury Natatorium prepared to do their best, but expecting the worst for some reason. Teenagers! A nice girl named Anne took them under her wing though and knowing Husband and I had a date at He’s Not Here, I hurried back to the hotel, exchanged people and we set off through Carrboro for the famous and unchanged picnic tables and Blue Cups.
All was not well in Chapel Hill though, as we sat at a stop light and got in a small accident with a woman who’d misjudged the distance between her car and mine. UGH! Chapel Hill’s finest were called as the damage was assessed and information exchanged. No one was hurt thank goodness, but we were definitely held up for a good hour in the heat and humidity discussing the changes that Carrboro and Chapel Hill have experienced in the last 20 years with strangers.
Nice strangers though, and my truck will get fixed … eventually. I always tell myself I am being protected from something far worse when things like this happen. Remaining optimistic and kind is the only way to handle these situations.
Overall, it was a great day. I wear a FitBit to track my steps and, checking it as I crawled into bed, we had covered over 8 miles.
No wonder we were so tired!